Broken Knuckle

Knuckles are fairly strong parts of your hands, but they can be broken and many people find it not a pleasant experience. Accompanied by pain, swelling and other symptoms, broken knuckle may interfere with daily activities much. A lot of things can be involved in relieving or treating them, such as simple ice pack, but if you understand the causes, symptoms and remedies, you will be able to handle it much better.


Signs of Broken Knuckle

Primary Signs

Knuckles tend to break whenever someone punches a wall, floor, or other hard surface. The symptoms of broken knuckles are shared with other hand injuries, but they can give you a good idea of what to look for.




There is immediate pain that comes on after the injury. Even if you are able to bend it without increased pain, it can still be broken. Depending on the break it can be more painful sometimes.


The swelling will set in within about 10 minutes. At this point, it will be hard to move because it has swollen so greatly. You might also find that the swelling spreads to other fingers and knuckles, not just the one that is injured.


In severe breaks, bruising will immediately be visible. The rapid loss of blood will show as a bruise, which would otherwise take a bit of time to reveal itself.


Numbness is usually accompanied by the intense swelling that the break causes. At a certain point, the swelling grows so intense that the nerves are compressed, causing numbness.

Sunken Knuckle

If you curl up your fist, but can’t see one of your knuckles, it is broken. In many cases, the swelling and pain can make it seem like it isn’t broken, but a sunken look can let you know for sure.

Associated Signs

These symptoms are not all common, but they do happen accompany with broken knuckle, so you should be aware of them.




The biggest problem with stiffness after a broken knuckle is that it may never heal entirely. Due to the splinting process, a stiff knuckle might not be 100% back to normal once it is entirely healed.


An infection is always possible after breaking a bone. Osteomyelitis is very hard to solve, but in many cases a long course of antibiotics can alleviate it, although sometimes surgery is necessary. In rare cases, though, amputation is necessary.

Delayed Union

Delayed union isn’t one of the more serious problems, but it is inconvenient. This means that the bone will take a great deal longer to heal. In the end, however, the knuckle will heal fully.


In some cases, despite proper splinting and surgery, a knuckle can heal poorly. If this happens, further surgeries might be necessary in order to properly set the bone back to its original state.


For some people, knuckle fractures just do not heal even after several weeks. This will result in an extended period of recovery, with even more symptoms associated with multiple procedures.

Home Remedies for Broken Knuckle

Deal with Open Wounds

Make sure to wash any cuts or scrapes that happened when you broke your knuckle. Hand soap, or any antiseptic, will make sure that your blood and bones do not get infected. You will also want to make sure that you cover your wounds after you have cleaned them. This will further prevent infections.

Apply Ice Pack

Wrap an ice pack in a towel and place it on the broken knuckle. This can be painful at first, but it will reduce the swelling and alleviate pain later.

Elevate the Knuckle

By placing it above your heart once you have cleaned it and reduce the swelling, you will drain excess blood from it. This will further limit swelling.

Strap to Neighboring Finger

Once the swelling and bleeding has subsided, you can strap it to the next finger in order to keep it straight. This is important for 3 weeks or more, depending on the severity. The longer you keep it there and the straighter you keep it, the better it will heal.

Use a Splint

A splint is important if you are worried about keeping it straight by strapping it to another finger. If it is too bad for even this option, doctor will have to help.

Medical Treatments for Broken Knuckle

Plate Fixation

Plate fixation involves metal plates holding the bones in place with small screws. These are permanently left in your hand and they are usually in the middle of your hand, rather than the actual knuckle.

External Fixation

This is most commonly recognized as the pins that are inserted into broken bones. This pin will hold the bones together until they are healed and the pins are held in place by metal rods.


Kirschner wires are small metal rods that will go across broken knuckles. These are different than external fixation options because they are easily removed with pliers once the bones are healed.

Interosseous Wires

These fuse-like wires tie broken bones together. In most cases, these are left in permanently, but are not noticeable.

Preventions for Broken Knuckle

The best thing that you can do to prevent broken knuckles is to try to remain safe. The majority of breaks happen because of falls, sports games, or machine accidents. Whenever you are doing anything that could result in broken knuckles, use all of the proper safety equipment.

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